"Is This Normal?": Hillary and Pam"

"Is This Normal?": Hillary and Pam"
Hillary's father passed away in January, and his half-brother, Danny, showed up at the funeral. He developed a relationship with Hillary's mother, Pam, and now she feels that he is coming between her and her mother. "Right now, the conflict between my mother and I is that she's not spending any time with me. She's spending her time with Danny," she complains. "My mom and I were together every single day, talked on the phone 12 times a day. We were together every night."

"Hillary has a problem with me doing things away from her," Pam explains. "When Hillary found out that Danny had feelings for me, she really freaked out. She constantly called me ... She sends me e-mails from work, expressing that, 'This is my uncle. You can't have feelings for my uncle. It's just not right.'"

Hillary adds her thoughts. "At first, I thought he was my uncle. I thought he was a part of our family. And to think that he was going to be dating my mom was freaky to me." She also misses having a shoulder to lean on. "She is the person I need in this grieving process. She said to me, 'My life is different now. You are going to have to start to make reservations to make plans with me,'" she says tearfully. "My mom has said to me before, 'If you can't accept the relationship that I have with Danny, and you compare it to your dad, then maybe you shouldn't talk to me about your dad anymore.'"

"I don't feel like I have to justify my actions to her," Pam says. "I do have to move on, as hard as it is."

Turning to Dr. Phil, Hillary asks, "Is it normal for me to feel confused about my mom dating my uncle so soon after my dad's death?"

"Absolutely, unequivocally, 100 percent, it is normal for you to feel what you're feeling, and be confused about all of these feelings and emotions that you're having right now," Dr. Phil stresses to Hillary. "You are nine months into the grieving process, and you're going to have some funny feelings at that point."

"I've kind of gotten over the fact that she is going to date someday, and that he is my uncle," Hillary admits. "We joke around on the phone, 'Uncle Step-Dad' sometimes, and try to make it funny. I'm accepting that. It's just that I miss my mom."

"Would it bother you more or less, or not at all, if Danny was not your father's half-brother?"

"When we first started hanging around, we were getting to know each other as a family," Hillary reveals. "And then it was almost like they just started being by themselves, and it was kind of like I was shut out ... Sometimes I appreciate the fact that he's there, to remind me of my dad. But then I look at him, with my mom, and I miss my dad."

Addressing Pam, Dr. Phil asks, "What do you think's going on here?"

"First of all, Hillary's got this misconception that we're dating. She goes into the fact that, 'Someday, will that be my stepdad, or my stepuncle dad or wh

atever.' She's looking way into the future. Danny and I are just kind of hanging out at this point. I don't consider it dating," she explains. "I was in his brother's family for 30 years. He did not know his family, and he gets that out of me. I get comfort out of talking to him about my husband and that family."

"Are you sensitive to the fact that this is a highly emotional time for her?"

"Yeah," Pam replies.

Dr. Phil advises Hillary to look at her situation in moments of clarity, not when she is emotional. "What you've said is, 'I lost my dad, and now I'm losing you too.' And that can give you a tremendous feeling of isolation, right? And desperation, and pain," he points out. "When we get that way, we can get real clingy. Because you've lost one of your parents, you're very dependant on your other parent right now for some stability, and some predictability and sameness." To Pam, he says, "Do you get that that's important to her?" 

"Yes," she replies, "But she complains that she doesn't get one-on-one time with me. But every time we do, she'll start screaming at me."

"Dependent people are typically very tyrannical, very demanding, very exacting about what they expect, because they need it so badly. And so they grab on, and hang on," Dr. Phil observes. "And that's not really rational for you. But the truth is, you don't want your mother to not have friends, do you?"

"It's not that at all. I know she has to move on," Hillary says tearfully. "I just want her to understand where I'm at."

Dr. Phil wants Hillary to examine the emotions behind her anger. "Anger is just an outward expression for hurt, for fear, confusion, frustration. Anger is just the way we express it, because that's the safest thing we know how to do," Dr. Phil notes. "But you're not really angry. Aren't you just really afraid right now? Aren't you afraid that she's just going to, like, disappear, and you're going to be isolated?"

Hillary agrees. "I mean, we were together every single day. She was at my house five nights a week for dinner. I understand that she's with Danny now, but the only time I'm with her now is if we're with Danny," she says. "I don't mind being around him sometimes, but I want her alone, sometimes, too.

Dr. Phil wants the mother and daughter to compromise. "Is there a time that the two of you could just decide, once a week you're going to have dinner together and catch up?" he suggests. "This isn't a time to vent all of your frustration and anger that you've been bottling up until you see her next, OK? And this isn't a time to be defensive about your right to do what you want to do. You do have a right to do what you want to do. I believe that more than you do," he informs Pam. "I think if you believe that as much as I
believe you have the right, you wouldn't be so defensive about it, you would just do it."

"I do," she replies.

"What you've got to do is set up some boundaries, and say, 'We're going to be together, just the two of us, and we're not going to talk about problems.' Because if all you ever talk about in a relationship is problems, then you've got a problem relationship," Dr. Phil warns.